In Focus

Your pride won’t feed us Mr. President

Your pride won’t feed us Mr. President

COVID 19 was a pandemic that plunged the world into pandemonium. It swept across the seas into Ghana, with our first confirmed case dated, 12th March 2020. Like elsewhere the world over, we were panic-gripped, overwhelmed by case spikes and fearful of the future.

The consensus was undisputed that we needed to come together like a broom, rising especially above the three dreaded elements of division: politics, religion and ethnicity. Indeed, for some people, the expectation was to see the president get all three surviving former presidents publicly involved in this war.

But hell no! So typical of President Akufo Addo, all of Ghana’s problems are caused by the NDC and President John Mahama, and the solutions can only come from him and his appointees. How so pathetic!

Meanwhile, not too long ago, his predecessor, President Mahama, a statesman, President Akufo Addo is yet to credit him for any good thing. He showed leadership when Ebola struck the sub-region. 2013 to 2016 it was, and Ebola recorded its worst outbreak in history, ravaging lives and livelihoods mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Unlike President Akufo Addo, President Mahama didn’t put his hands in between his thighs while danger was lurking around. What did he do?

Three Ebola Isolation Centres were built, protective gear reported to number up to 10,000 pieces was procured, and there was an insurance package designed for healthcare workers, among other containment plans President Mahama had put in place.

Thankfully, we were spared the struggle of fighting Ebola.

On the contrary, President Akufo Addo’s commitment to fighting COVID 19 was motivated by, ‘what is in there for me?’ If that isn’t the case, how so conscionable could Frontiers Healthcare Services Limited be awarded the contract for COVID-19 testing at the Kotoka International Airport?

The attempted dubious procurement of COVID-19 vaccines by the Ministry of Health belies the government’s stealing agenda. We still await the audited report on claims of millions being spent on feeding Ghanaians during the lockdown. Posterity shall, indeed, be the judge.

We are, once again, faced with a looming crisis but any Tom, Dick and Harry can predictably expect President Akufo Addo to sleep on the job. 1983 may just be repeated this year and into next year, such an undignified commemoration of our hungry state four decades back.

Can we be spared claims of COVID-19 and the Russia -the Ukraine war being the only cause of our chaos?

It is trite knowledge that Ghana’s debt stock stood at GHS122 billion cedis before the Akufo Addo presidency. This ballooned to GHS341.7 billion by the end of the third quarter of 2021, a whopping GHS219.7 billion borrowed by President Akufo Addo in five years.

The regret is that there is nothing to show for this borrowing spree. Before now, pride was taken in a so-called successful implementation of the free SHS policy but the chickens have come home to roost and a retreat seems to be made back to the opinions of critical voices who were labelled unpatriotic and naysayers.

Long and short, President Akufo Addo has been reckless with his borrowings. No UG Medical Centre, Ridge Hospital, Ghana Gas, Tema Port expansion, Pokuase Interchange, High Court complex, Kejetia Market and so on. His record is one of debt and destruction. A whopping GHS219.7 billion is invested in destroying the La General Hospital, judges’ houses, and the Trade Fair. How can these destructions feed us?

The statistics are grim, and the facts, are scary. The government statistician announced only a week ago that consumer price inflation shot up to 23.6 per cent in April, a record-setting eighteen-year high.

The devil, they say, is in the details. Food inflation rose to 26.6 per cent. Is it any wonder then that prices of foodstuffs have seen sharp increases, some going up by more than 100 per cent? No food item has remained stable in price over the period. Tomatoes, onions, pepper, yam, cassava, beans, maize, name it, anything edible has become an expensive commodity. Food vendors have had to knock down the impact on the quantity and prices of the food they sell.

The more dreaded news is the looming food shortage. Industry players predict a food crisis by September this year if the government does not sit up in providing farm inputs for this farming season.

They worry that though the first farming season in southern Ghana would soon end, subsidized fertilizer is as rare as water in the desert. Should this be repeated in the second season and during the only farming season in the northern sector, we shall be bargaining to contain a food crisis.

In a response to this danger, President Akufo Addo has sent his appointees and communicators to tell us to blame Russia for invading Ukraine. In fact, it may as well be the President’s view that but for Putin’s thirst to conquer Ukraine, fertilizer would have flooded the streets of Ghana instead of flood taking over the streets at Circle and Kaneshie whenever it rains.

Lessons are there to be learnt from the famine of 1983. However, as inept as President Akufo Addo is, he is unperturbed about the danger that lies ahead.

He seems to have rather instructed his minister in charge of finance to pursue the very unpopular Agyapa deal and ensure he cuts a deal either by hook or crook. Nothing could be more heartless.

Now more than ever is when the president should climb down his high horse of pride, deceptive competence and nonchalance. He must organise an emergency stakeholder consultation to nib this canker in the bud.

President Akufo Addo must take after the sterling example of President Mahama, who didn’t find it shameful to call for the Senchi consultative forum.

Indeed, it is the outcome of Senchi that propelled a 7 per cent growth rate in 2017 which President Akufo Addo is fond of taking credit for.

Columnist: Waterz Yidana

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